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The relationship between literature and counterculture: the example of British and American counterculture of the 1950s and 1960s


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Protulipac, Armin. (2017). The relationship between literature and counterculture: the example of British and American counterculture of the 1950s and 1960s. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor Klepač, Tihana].

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Along with being a frequent feature and theme in various forms of creative expression, the British and American counterculture of the late 1950s and 1960s has produced a significant body of its own cultural artefacts. Reflective of the aspirations and ideals championed by the diverse set of groups and movements partaking in the countercultural explosion, its cultural production sought to challenge conventions and explore new ways of both producing and experiencing art. In no field of artistic and literary work was this more true than in the world of countercultural drama and theatre. Examples from the American Off-Off-Broadway scene and British fringe theatre will be used to illustrate how radical theatres combined experimental art with political resistance, simultaneously devising a tool for political agitation, revolutionising and overturning traditional approaches and conceptions about theatre and, most interestingly, creating a microcosm of what the counterculture believed was the image of future society. Combining sociological insight and theatre studies, the analysis will rely heavily on theoretical explorations of the counterculture by Theodore Roszak and Herbert Marcuse, contemporaries of the tumultuous events of the 1960s. Beginning with a historical overview of the origins and early years of post-war experimental theatre on both sides of the Atlantic, the paper will examine the literary influences and social developments which helped set the stage for the subsequent rise of both the counterculture and radical theatre. The analysis will place special focus on the political aspects of performance in the fringe and Off-Off-Broadway scenes. Finally, after a brief account of the reasons which brought about the counterculture’s decline, as well as those which ultimately affected the very essence of radical theatre and re-shaped its image in the mid-70s, the contemporary legacy and impact of the radical theatre movement of the 1960s will be assessed.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: counterculture, Off-Off-Broadway, fringe theatre, radical theatre, political art
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Klepač, Tihana
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2017 09:28
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2017 09:28

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